So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt, illus. by Daniel Minter

Picture book biographies are coming into their own lately, aimed at young kids and also older ones who can look at the notes in the back. Here’s a truly notable book, set apart by its amazing illustrations and its jewel-toned prose.

Sojourner Truth was a woman who was able to leave slavery and continued the rest of her life boldly telling everyone how bad slavery was. She walked everywhere.

But how did she start out? As Isabella, who toiled as a slave in New York State, sold away from her mother at age nine. When her master failed to keep his promise to free her, she walked away–to the neighbors who soon bought her freedom and that of her baby.

She continually stood up for her rights. When her former master sold her five-year-old son down south, she knew it was against the law and walked many miles to get justice.

I could go on and on about the incidents where she could have kept silent, but instead she spoke out, changing her name to Sojourner Truth.

Gary D. Schmidt tells this story with poetic prose, so beautiful to read aloud. Daniel Minter’s illustrations are heartbreaking.

I know this because as soon as I bought the book, I stopped by the neighbors sitting on their porch and read it to them. It’s a moving book. It’s a book you have to read.

Schmidt also wrote a notable middle-grade book on the subject of race (Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy), as well as other books. He is a professor at Calvin College in Michigan.

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